BELIZE CITY, Wed. May 9, 2018– It has been about twenty years since a re-registration of voters has been done in Belize, and today, the Elections and Boundaries Department held a press conference to discuss the upcoming re-registration that will commence on July 1, 2018. Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer, announced that they have allotted an 8-million-dollar budget for the entire process.
Tamai said that the budget includes the costs for staffing, especially since some 300 additional persons will be needed; costs for the equipment necessary to verify that each applicant qualifies; and the cost of the new voting IDs, which will be equipped with security features (the laminated IDs will no longer be issued). Also included in the budget are the investigations that will be carried out to confirm applicants’ eligibility, which will be occurring simultaneously with the re-registration.
Considering the documents such as passports and birth certificates that are needed to apply, Tamai stated that the people in charge of those departments will be working in collaboration with the Elections and Boundaries Department to eliminate falsified documents. These departments will also need extra staff that will focus solely on registration matters.
The entire registration process will last until December, and there will be 100 registration centers across the country. Registration will only take place in July and August, and persons who want to register after that time will need to apply at the Elections and Boundaries offices. The cut-off date for registration, according to Tamai, is March 10, 2019.
Tamai said that the department encourages anyone who is eligible to re-register, to do so. They will facilitate disabled persons, persons living in rural areas, and those who may not have the money necessary for the documents required, as long as those individuals alert the department to their situation.
Currently, the number of registered voters in the country amounts to 204,802, and Tamai estimates that at the end of re-registration, that amount will be at least 200,000. One of the objectives for this re-registration is to “clean” the list of voters, so to speak, to ensure that everyone on it is qualified. After the lists are finalized, they will be available for viewing by the public for two weeks — a period within which the department encourages members of the public to speak up if they know of someone who does not qualify.
The qualifications that would make a person eligible to register include being eighteen years or older, being a citizen of Belize, or being a citizen of a Commonwealth country who has been living in Belize for more than twelve months. To be registered in a certain division, persons must have been living at an address in that division for at least two months.
Failure to register would cause a person to be unable to vote, not just in elections, but also in the ICJ referendum that is set for April 10, 2019.